Diamondoids From Crude Oil Aid Nanotechnology Research
Diamondoids are now being refined from crude oil by ChevronTexaco in sufficient quantities to allow for formal research and development in nanotechnology. Diamondoids are not for jewelry; each one is only .000000000000000001 carat in size (don't even ask about color or clarity!) They were first isolated from Czechoslovakian petroleum in 1933; the substance was named adamantine (from the Greek word for diamond). An adamantine derivative called amantadine was found to fight viruses, and also has some efficacy in treating Parkinson's disease.
Nanotechnology Building Blocks
Each diamondoid has just ten carbon atoms; a macromolecular diamond is made up of billions of these units. They are also found in multiples of this basic unit; these higher diamondoids come in many shapes - rods, disks and even screws. This makes them ideal building blocks for nanotechnology research; the production of this nano-material in quantity may be a key enabler for researchers. Previously, synthesizing them has been very difficult and expensive.
There are very few agents known to have anti-viral properties; this alone makes them worth looking at. They may even have use in mundane applications like fuel additives.
Since this is a science fiction site, I couldn't pass up this reference - adamantium is, of course, the metal that makes up Wolverine's skeleton and claws in the well-known X-Men comic and movies; read more about the sfnal version of adamantium at the Marvel Comics glossary. See also fabricules, a nanotechnology that could use certain aspects of a petroleum-derived diamondoid.
For the real science, see MolecularDiamond Technologies: Higher Diamondoid Technology; this site has excellent illustrations and explanations. The reference news story is Diamondoids Can Be Refined From Crude Oil.
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